Distracted

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Why It's So Hard Just to Pay Attention

What's the Latest Development?

Far from receiving information about the world as it is, our biologyand psychologyfilter what we perceive to be reality to a very high degree. Studies conducted on how people literally see the world suggest that "our brains are bombarded by something like eleven million pieces of data at any given time, and of that, we are able to consciously process only about forty." This is due to physical restrictions on the eyeball and the brain. Of the ten billion bits per second that the retina takes in, only about ten thousand make it to the visual cortex. What's more, only ten percent of the brain's synapses are dedicated to incoming visual information. 

What's the Big Idea?

Our ability to observe the world is just that: An ability. Without conscious effort, the details of everyday life fly by us unappreciated. It's for this reason that science draws a thick boundary between seeing and observing, the latter meaning that we consciously give our attention to a specific object or idea. "What we need to learn instead is how to tell our brains what and how to filter, instead of letting them be lazy and decide for us, based on what they think would make for the path of least resistance." The problem lies in a lack of mindfulness and a willingness to be still and present before whatever you are about to do. 

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

Read it at BBC Future

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